While e-cigarettes are not risk-free, the Government supports the use of e-cigarettes as a means to stop adults smoking and contributing towards the goal of creating the first smokefree generation.
Some of the highest success rates of those trying to stop smoking are among adults using an e-cigarette, with evidence suggesting that an additional 70,000 people stop every year as a result of using these devices. An estimated 2.4 million vapers are former smokers, and Vaping Awareness Month - VApril - highlights the potential health benefits of making the switch.
However, it is deeply worrying that the number of children using vapes has tripled in the past three years, with 20.5 per cent of children having tried vaping in 2023. I fully understand the concerns of parents about underage sales of vapes and the Government is considering proposals to tackle this issue, including restricting flavours, regulating point of sale displays, regulating packaging and restrictions on the sale of disposable vapes.
Working together with the devolved administrations, the Government will ensure a consistent approach across the UK. A consultation recently took place to gather views on several measures to tackle youth vaping, with around 25,000 responses from the public and interested stakeholders. The Government is now considering those responses and will be bringing forward a Tobacco and Vapes Bill in due course.
It is greatly concerning to see the proliferation of illicit vaping products in our communities, often imported from countries such as China and breaching UK regulations on product size and nicotine strength. A new “illicit vapes enforcement squad” – led by Trading Standards – has been established to enforce the rules on vaping and tackle illicit vapes and underage sales. The enforcement squad will have the power to remove illegal products from shops and at our borders.
The Government has regularly set out its position on vaping at the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. As you may be aware, the COP10 Conference has been postponed to 2024 due to the current security situation in Panama.
When the Conference does take place, the delegation will not agree to any decisions which would impact on the UK's ability to make regulated vapes available for adult smokers who wish to quit smoking. The latest ‘Vaping in England’ report published last year, which includes an array of evidence produced by the United Kingdom academic community, is publicly available online and has been shared with the World Health Organization Global Tobacco Regulators Forum.
As with previous events at the Conference of the Parties, the Government will use the opportunity in 2024 to speak about the UK’s progress on the implementation of tobacco control policies. This will include the role of nicotine replacement therapy and vapes in supporting people to quit all forms of tobacco.